In the computing world, a session refers to a limited time of communication between two systems. Some sessions involve a client and a server, while other sessions involve two personal computers.

A common type of client/server session is a Web or HTTP session. An HTTP session is initiated by a Web browser each time you visit a website. While each page visit constitutes an individual session, the term is often used to describe the entire time you spend on the website. For example, when you purchase an item on an ecommerce site, the entire process may be described as a session, even though you navigated through several different pages.

Another example of a client/server session is an email or SMTP session. Whenever you check your email with an email client, such as Microsoft Outlook or Apple Mail, you initiate an SMTP session. This involves sending your account information to the mail server, checking for new messages, and downloading the messages from the server. Once the messages have been downloaded, the session is complete.

An example of a session between two personal computers is an online chat, or instant messaging session. This type of session involves two computers, but neither system is considered a server or client. Instead, this type of communication is called a peer-to-peer or P2P. Another example of P2P communication is BitTorrent file sharing, where file downloads are comprised of one or more sessions with other computers on the BitTorrent network. A P2P session ends when the connection between two systems is terminated.

Updated February 2, 2011 by Per C.

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